The companies with the most ingenious ideas do not always prevail on the market. History is full of examples. Because if it were different, Saab, for example, would still exist. The small, always innovative brand from Sweden reached its peak in the late 80s and early 90s. Then what can be described as democratization occurred. There was a little bit of Saab for everyone.
A little Saab for everyone.
This is the title of the Saab-Euro magazine in issue number 4 in the year 1991. The IAA in Frankfurt is history, the Swedes have shown with the 9000 CS the evolution of their successful upper-class model. And found that own innovations are increasingly found in vehicles of the competition. Audi introduces the new 100. The C4, which will later become the first A6, is an important step in the rise of the brand. And he has for the first time at the Ingolstadt a standard flank protection in the doors. A feature that has long been standard for Saab. And also Opel, Mitsubishi and VW follow suit. However, with many manufacturers, including almost all European premium suppliers, the flank protection is reserved only for the US market.
And while the Swedes were already installing the aspherical curved exterior mirror in series 10 years earlier, it will only be celebrating its premiere at Audi with the new 100. Also at VW, for an extra charge, in the new Golf. It is no coincidence that Saab ideas spread to Ingolstadt, because developers from the 9000 team have meanwhile moved to southern Germany.
Flank protection, pollen filter, belt tensioner.
Also the dust and pollen filter, in a Saab already since 1978 in series, spreads 91 on a broad front. BMW supplies the filter in the 5er with air conditioning as standard, for the new Golf III and Astra, after all, has a simple version. The Japanese? None. After all, Mazda celebrates the pollen filter for some models for retrofitting. And also the belt tensioner, available since 1989 at Saab and 1990 at Mercedes, presents itself to the IAA in the Astra and Golf III. However, not controlled by an explosive charge, but mechanically and thus cheaper.
Let's stay with Opel. The German provider benefits from the fresh marriage with the Swedes and is acquiring turbo know-how. The highly regarded Calibra Turbo was on the Hessen stand in 1991. 204 hp, 16 high-tech valves. Also environmentally friendly with a preheated lambda probe developed by Saab directly behind the exhaust manifold.
For some other details, the Swedes are still lonely, as the Saab magazine regretfully notes. The Latent heat storage, which reduces the pollutants dramatically at engine start, there are still only in a Saab. Likewise, the CFC-free air conditioning, the 1991 but already found at suppliers such as Behr Automotive, and will continue to spread in the following years.
A bit of Saab can still be found in every car today. At Göta Älv, on the other hand, the slow decline began in the mid-90s. A prescribed forced relegation, one has to say. GM refuses to make the necessary investments and tries to bring the Swedes into line. Not always with success. After the much noticed 900 II, the last hatchback with several innovations, the new models are more and more adapted to the mainstream. Sedan and station wagon instead of hatchback, the luxury class will no longer be served with the phasing out of the 9000. Although the ingenuity of the engineers shimmers through again and again until the end, it is no longer as impressive as in the early 90s, when Saab ideas were spread across an entire industry.